Monday, May 9, 2011

PAA Rainbow oil pipeline leak in Canada a 28,000-barrel monster

CALGARY, Alta. - Initial reports that the Plains All American LP Rainbow Pipeline in remote Canada spilled "hundreds of barrels" proved to be understatement. The most recent estimate is that the line spilled 28,000 barrels - 1.2 million gallons of crude.

That makes the spill in Alberta the province's largest in 36 years, according to regulators.

The Rainbow pipeline rupture was discovered April 29, the Energy Resources Conservation Board said on May 3.

A spill of that magnitude on a provincial pipeline hasn't happened since 1975, when the Bow Valley line leaked 40,000 barrels of oil, said board spokesman Davis Sheremata.

Crews reached and exposed the damaged section of Rainbow pipe on the afternoon of May 3 after being hampered by boggy conditions. Sheremata said the spill had been contained and cleanup efforts were ongoing.

Two stopple fittings were installed on the ruptured pipeline segment on May 3. The replacement pipe was hydrotested.

Plains completed repairs on the pipeline and had recovered about 1,900 barrels of spilled crude by May 4, the company said in updates on its Web site.

The restart of the line is contingent on regulatory approval, according to the company.

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